The awesome beauty of North Wales’s Mount Snowdon is enjoyed on a cogwheel train to its summit. The island of Anglesey, last Druid stronghold, has fine archaeological sites. Prehistoric Bryn Celli Ddu, (‘the mound in the dark grove’) is an impressive Neolithic chambered tomb occupying the site of a former henge monument. Anglesea also has fine country houses like architect James Wyatt’s Plas Newydd. Its 1930s interior has Rex Whistler’s vast mural. Its garden was begun by Humphrey Repton (1752-1818). The most famous among castles built by Edward I to control Wales is Caernarfon (1330), located strategically on the Menai Strait between north Wales and Anglesey. Edward’s son, the first English Prince of Wales, was born here (1284) and since then it has hosted the Investiture of the Prince of Wales. Edward’s impregnable Harlech Castle has two rings of walls and towers, with a strong east gatehouse. Castle Conwy’s (1238-1289) soaring curtain walls and eight huge towers dominate its town from a high cliff. Medieval Powis Castle has a unique 17th-century European formal garden, a Baroque interior and a Clive Museum with Indian treasures. Dolbadarn Castle (1230s), with a massive round-towered keep, was built for Edward I’s Welsh adversary, Llywelyn the Great, whose later family’s home is Gwydir Castle. Plas Mawr is possibly the best-preserved Elizabethan town house in Great Britain. Delightfully eccentric is flamboyant Arts and Crafts architect and garden designer Sir Clough Williams-Ellis’s Italian inspired resort village of Portmeirion. Evelyn Waugh lived and wrote in its picturesque buildings. Ellis’s own house, Plas Brondanw, has a great Arts and Crafts garden.
In South Wales, beautiful Monmouth was greatly appreciated by Wye Valley picturesque tourists. Its important Nelson Museum was founded in 1924. Cardiff’s National Museum has one of Europe’s finest painting collections, from medieval Italian to important Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works. St Fagans National Museum of History is an open-air museum chronicling the past lifestyle, culture, and architecture of the Welsh people. The picturesque seaside town of Tenby, on Carmarthen Bay, Pembrokeshire, has 13th-century walls. Nearby Skomer Island has the largest Atlantic puffin colony in southern Britain. South Wales has fine houses and gardens like High Glanau Manor.
A unique tour of south-west England, Wales and the Wye Valley, an area that has inspired diverse writers and artists, with its rich, varied coastal landscapes and picturesque countryside. Read more